It’s not just forced ultrasound: Abortion rights under assault

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/10/21/its_not_just_forced_ultrasound_abortion_rights_under_assault/?source=newsletter

In 2012, some 1,100 bills targeted reproductive rights — and 135 passed in 36 states. The cost? Women’s health

By
Sunday, Oct 21, 2012

A young girl in a green tank top lies on the examination table in a stark exam room in a Houston clinic. Her pink toenails dangle belowthe sterile covering draped over her thighs. The doctor inserts a probe between her legs and the two watch a grainy blob blossom on a sonogram screen suspended below the room’s industrial fluorescent lights. He gives a state-mandated description of the fetus: almost exactly seven weeks, he says, “nice and early.” She is well within the time frame for an abortion pill, rather than surgery.

The doctor, an avuncular, silver-haired man who’s been providing abortions, in the words of one colleague, “pretty much since Roe v. Wade,” turns the screen toward her and traces the outline of her uterus and the embryo, while the girl looks on blankly. He plays the heartbeat, which rises from the machine in a loud, shrill electronic pulse. The ritual, which is repeated several times a day at this Planned Parenthood in Houston and in clinics across the state, is mandated by a new Texas law designed to intensify the experience of abortion — to impress upon a woman, with images and sounds, the sense that she’s about to terminate a living thing.

Ultrasounds are a routine procedure at Planned Parenthood and many other clinics, a tool doctors use to gauge gestational stage — which can affect which procedure to use — or to detect complications. Some abortion patients prefer to see the sonogram, others are indifferent, others are traumatized by the very idea. But the new law makes displaying the ultrasound mandatory. Under Texas law, even if a woman averts her eyes, the doctor must give a verbal description of the fetus anyway. And it’s just the latest addition to a bureaucratic juggernaut of regulations that restrict how abortion providers practice in Texas.

In recent years, lawmakers across the country have enacted a dizzying array of arcane rules dictating everything from the dimensions of their buildings to the advice they must offer to patients about “abortion alternatives.” Thirty-five states, including Texas, have enacted pre-abortion counseling laws, which in many cases force women to make extra clinic visits. Legislatures in 10 states have introduced new measures for pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods in 2012. In addition, 18 states have introduced bills for ultrasound requirements this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research institute.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/10/21/its_not_just_forced_ultrasound_abortion_rights_under_assault/?source=newsletter

Conservatives’ HPV vaccine dilemma: are they anti-cancer, or just anti-sex?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/16/conservatives-hpv-vaccine-dilemma

Proof that vaccinating girls against the HPV virus does not cause promiscuity puts culture warriors in a spot


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 October 2012

According to a recent study, giving children tetanus shots will not, in fact, encourage them to stab themselves with rusty nails or be less cautious when playing outdoors. Various political organizations have advocated against the tetanus vaccine, arguing that tetanus shots send the message that recreation is acceptable, and that if children know they’re protected from lockjaw, they will be less vigilant about avoiding the kinds of cuts and scrapes that can lead to deadly nervous system infections. Attempts to require tetanus vaccination have met extreme backlash from conservative groups who argue that mandating the vaccine is an assault on parental rights and family values.

Even bills that simply would have made the vaccine free for low-income children without mandating it were vetoed by Republican governors. Doctors hope that these study results, which show that tetanus-vaccinated children are no more likely to engage in unsafe recreational behavior than their unvaccinated peers, will increase the tetanus shot rate for children of parents who fear that tetanus shots encourage risk-taking.

At this point, you’re thinking, I hope:

“What in the world is this lady talking about? Everyone gives their kids tetanus shots! You’d be irresponsible not to inoculate your child against tetanus, and you’re nuts if you think that giving a kid a tetanus shot will make him be less careful about slicing his skin with filthy rusted metal. And there’s absolutely no political controversy around tetanus shots.”

You would be right. If only the same were true of the HPV vaccine.

According to a recent study, giving girls the HPV vaccine will not, in fact, encourage them to engage in sexual activity any earlier than their peers. Various political organizations have advocated against the HPV vaccine, arguing that the vaccine sends the message that sexual behavior is acceptable, and that if girls know they’re protected from HPV, they will be less vigilant about avoiding the kinds of risky sexual behaviors that can lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/16/conservatives-hpv-vaccine-dilemma

Is Big Pharma the biggest criminal fraudster in America?

Praying for Health Care Sanity

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/25-6

by Donna Smith
Published on Friday, May 25, 2012 by Common Dreams

I admit it.  I pray.  I know there are intellectuals who are above such frivolity and for whom the showing of any belief in a power greater than one’s self and one’s intellect is the ultimate sign of weakness and inferiority.  I don’t care.  I am not weak, and just because I am not in the economic or intellectual class as some have identified that class does not mean my brain is inferior to anyone else’s.

I think a lot about cruelty and the power that the profit-making gods have over people in America today.  And I work every day to support efforts to make the healthcare system less profit-driven and more humane.  To do the work I do, I educated myself and have worked at least as hard intellectually and professionally as any of the elite class who hold so much power over the rest of us – not because they have earned that power, but because they have purchased it with cash, with cruelty and with blind ambition to control the lives of others.

Today, I pray.  And for many American patients, prayer is one of the ways we try to steal ourselves against the traumas of an inhumane healthcare system run by the same profit-driven forces that control nearly every aspect of our lives every day.  My insurance company has made my most recent cancer journey hell for me.  For the past two months, the diagnostic efforts and now my treatment options have been second-guessed and delayed.  But nothing else in life is delayed.  So I pray.  I pray my doctors have the wisdom and skill to work around Aetna’s demands (I am sure you could easily substitute your own insurance company’s name here), and I pray I can dance fast enough around all the other issues in life to keep everything steady through this process.

A few weeks ago I wrote that if this cancer ends up requiring some long, expensive fight for care and I will likely not be OK anyway, I will not spend the rest of my life fighting with an insurance company and begging for mercy.  That has not changed.  But I am not even yet to the point where I can make that decision – the insurance company has questioned every single test and every procedure though I have faithfully used their “preferred providers.”

I pray today, as many Americans patients do, that I wake up this afternoon and hear a good result, but that I won’t be left with hundreds or thousands in bills somehow.  I pray, as many American patients do, that I won’t be seen in the wider world as damaged goods and unable to fulfill my other responsibilities.  I pray, as many American patients do, not that I won’t hurt or die but that I won’t make others suffer because I couldn’t navigate the cruel system well enough even as I felt ill and needed help but didn’t dare ask for it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/25-6

Posted in Corporate Abuse, Health Care. Comments Off

Threat Of Hunger Skyrockets Among Seniors Over Last Decade: Report

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/threat-of-hunger-hunger-risk-food-insecurity_n_1475367.html


05/03/2012

One in seven seniors in America — some 8.3 million people — faced the threat of hunger in 2010, a 78 percent spike since 2001, according to a study released today by Meals On Wheels, the nonprofit that delivers meals to the homebound.

The “Senior Hunger Report Card” found while the risk of hunger for the U.S. population as a whole has declined since the end of the recession in 2009, it rose for people age 60 and older, mainly among those earning less than $30,000 –- or one to two times the poverty level. (The federal poverty level in 2010, the period studied, was $10,830 for a single person and $14,570 for a couple.) James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Craig Gundersen of the University of Illinois authored the report.

“There is no question that we are failing our seniors, some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Enid A. Borden, CEO of the Meals On Wheels Research Foundation, in a statement. “The numbers spell out our failure with clarity, and at the same time they call us to action. No one in this, the richest nation on Earth should face the threat of hunger, no one. And seniors, who have little power to change their circumstances, deserve our special attention.” (See Borden’s exclusive Huff/Post50 blog post on the report for more.)

At greatest risk were seniors living in the South and Southwest, minorities, people who were divorced or separated, the disabled, and seniors age 60 to 69 (versus those over age 75). In terms of geography, the threat of hunger for seniors increased in 44 states since 2007, the report found, rising two percentage points in the “Top Ten Hunger States” (see slideshow below). Hunger risk declined or remained the same in just six states: Mississippi, Minnesota, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana and Idaho.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/threat-of-hunger-hunger-risk-food-insecurity_n_1475367.html

Neo-Nazi Texas Republican Attorney General Compares Planned Parenthood To Terrorist Organization

It’s time to stop pretending the Republicans haven’t become the Nazi Party of America. Their hatred of women and LGBT people makes them completely un-American

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/texas-ag-planned-parenthood-terrorist_n_1468838.html


05/ 1/2012

Just two hours after a U.S. district judge stopped a Texas law that would have eliminated Planned Parenthood’s participation in the state’s Women’s Health Program, Federal Appeals Judge Jerry E. Smith issued an emergency stay that lifted that order.

In the appeal for the emergency stay, a team of attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”

“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”

The “federal material-support statute” that Abbott mentions makes it a felony to give money to a terrorist organization, even if the funds are specified for nonterrorist activities. Abbott makes the argument that giving Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, pap smears, STD testing and birth control is akin to giving a terrorist organization money for humanitarian activities.

Planned Parenthood responded Tuesday to the terrorist comparison in a statement to the Huffington Post.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/texas-ag-planned-parenthood-terrorist_n_1468838.html

Woman Jailed, Ostracized After Resorting to Self-Administered Abortion: What Is This, Puritan America?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/153433/woman_jailed%2C_ostracized_after_resorting_to_self-administered_abortion%3A_what_is_this%2C_puritan_america/

When we deprive women of access to abortion, shun them, and even throw them in jail, we as a society become weaker.

By Amanda Marcotte 
December 14, 2011

Jennie McCormack, a resident of Idaho and a mother of three, has spent the past few months of her life in a legal and social situation that calls to mind the trials of Hester Pyrnne, the heroine of The Scarlet LetterAs reported by Nancy Hass of Newsweek, McCormack’s ordeal started when she learned she was pregnant by a man who was doing time for robbery.

Realizing that she couldn’t afford another baby, nor the $500 fee and two trips to get an abortion (because Idaho requires women to wait 24 hours after their first visit to the doctor to “think it over”), McCormack resorted to buying RU-486 from a vendor online. The police eventually arrested McCormack and charged her with an illegal abortion, claiming that she was over Idaho’s legal limit of 20 weeks for an abortion. Since the exact gestational age can’t be determined, charges have been dropped for now, but prosecutors are retaining the right to re-charge McCormack. In the meantime, she’s become a pariah in her community, been fired from her job, and even had to face social workers who are basically denying her aid to care for her children.

Even in super-liberal New York City, a woman is being prosecuted (albeit in a less drastic way) for a self-abortion after the legal limit. The desperate woman, accused of aborting after six months, threw the fetus in a trash can, presumably because she was not aware of her other options for disposing of it.

In the United States, abortion is technically a legal right, but as these cases show, it’s not functionally a right. If abortion were actually a right, women wouldn’t have such a difficult time getting a legal abortion that they resort to drastic measures that land them in jail. These cases demonstrate why abortion needs to be more than a right for those who have the means to jump through all the hoops put in place to keep them from obtaining legal abortions. Making sure women who want abortions can get them in a timely and safe fashion helps more than the women in question. We all do better if women can get the abortions that are supposedly their right.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/153433/woman_jailed%2C_ostracized_after_resorting_to_self-administered_abortion%3A_what_is_this%2C_puritan_america/

Medical Issues and Openness

I have been on my own almost my entire adult life when it comes to health  care.  I have only  been covered with health insurance for maybe five of the last 45 years.

Outside of about a 5 year period when I was in transition and surgery including the labial revision my seeing doctors has been a rather hit or miss affair.

I’ve gone to doctors at free clinics who wrote scripts for my hormones.

In the past, on occasions when I’ve had access to someone who has a lot of TS/TG patients, I’ve felt comfortable enough to be open about my medical history and actually get a physical exam.

But for most of my life I’ve tended to avoid doctors unless I was in need of emergency medical attention.

In most cases where it wasn’t relevant for me to share my information I haven’t shared it.

That includes when I required the emergency surgery to remove the breast implants that were causing the breast tissue above them to die and were coming out one way or another.

Then Tina found a really good doctor, one we both felt comfortable with and who didn’t have a problem with us both in the exam room at the same time.

Having a doctor recognize that you are a family unit and not act strange because you are a same sex couple is important.

He also took Medicare.

Late last year Tina insisted I see a doctor.

Just as a couple of years before that I had insisted she see one.

She learned she is diabetic.  I learned that along with being over weight I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

We, initially she found the doctor, who is now our family doctor through several references from the doctor who removed my implants.

I think sometimes we are more driven by fear of prejudice than by actual prejudice.

We are afraid doctors will mistreat us or not value our relationships.  In some cases they do mistreat us and in some cases they are prejudiced.  But we are in a way not just patients, but consumers of medical services.

This means we can do a certain degree of shopping.

Now for some matters how much we share with the doctor treating us may well be based on, “How much do they need to know?”  Does a dentist really need to know about our having been transsexual years ago?  Or our being in transition?  Or our being transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual?

Now mileage may vary, and someone such as an optometrist, whose questionnaire lists medications you are taking may well need to know if you are taking hormones, because of the potential side effects of certain medications.

At the same time when I was treated for a broken wrist I didn’t feel compelled to share my past medical history.

As L/G and especially as people with either transsexualism or transgenderism, we often have medical needs that straight people do not.  At the same time we sometimes do not have the needs that they have.

Medicine is not nor should it ever be the same as religion.

We should not have to fear discrimination or unequal treatment.  We should demand our relationships be treated with the same dignity and respect accorded straight people.

Call it Radical Egalitarianism if you will, but human dignity demands no less.

The United States has what is perhaps the worst Health Care Insurance structure in the developed world.

It leaves many of us uncovered until we reach the age where we are eligible for Medicare.

Lack of marriage equality plays a major role in this lack of coverage since we are often not eligible to be covered by partner’s benefits.  Add to this the fact that so many of us are victims of the erosion of the middle class, coupled with minority group status means that often we are either  unemployed or under-employed.  Either way that means we are uninsured as part-time employees are rarely covered by health insurance.

This means we are paying out of pocket and postponing medical treatment.

Way too many of us engage in risky sex, drug and alcohol abuse.  L/G and especially TS/TG people smoke at a much higher rate than the general population.  Yesterday I was listening to Michelangelo Signorile, who was speaking to some one involved with an LGBT/T health study and I learned that in general the rate of smoking among LGBT/T people is double that of the straight communities.

Many of us are afraid of doctors.  That fear probably dates from childhood when many of us were threatened with horrifying treatments and cures  because we were born different.

We literally are everywhere.  From the smallest village to the biggest city.  Many of us do not have the luxury of living in a ghetto or even near one where one can look up a doctor in the LGBT/T Yellow Pages.

This means that when we look for a family doctor and find one who is open we may have to become a teacher for someone who is an authority figure we are going to for help.  Sort of the way many TS/TG people had to do in the 1960s and 1970s.

You can’t do this from the closet.  Your relationship with your family practitioner is one of the most intimate relationships you will ever have.

Tina says I am not a complainer.  We are both in the exam room when our doctor examines either of us.  We each bring up things that the other one of us glosses over or fails to admit.  I am sometimes afraid to mention I have chronic injuries that bother me.  I tough it out and compartmentalize pain.  I had planer fascitis for over a year while I was working on the concrete floor of the big box.  I took ibuprofen and worked through it.

I didn’t tell my doctor for the first six months of seeing him.  I guess I figured it would just heal itself as I was on my feet less.  When I told him he gave me a name for the condition and suggested a couple of things I could do to help it heal.  I went home and searched for information on the condition, discovered that Birkenstocks were highly recommended.  Now some three months later the pain has diminished considerably.

Most of my friends from the early days are dead.  Or perhaps I should clarify that a bit, with most of my friends who lived fast, died young.  Often times they refused to see doctors about issues until they got to a point where they were seriously ill.

I know it is embarrassing, especially when you have to teach your doctor, but decent medical care should be our right as  human beings.  Even if we were born different.  Along with equal access to health care our relationships deserve to be treated as being equal in every respect to those of straights.

Posted in Health Care, Medicine. Comments Off

Right Wing Misogynist, Hannity blasts free birth control, defends free erection pills

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/08/hannity-blasts-free-birth-control-defends-free-erection-pills/

By Stephen C. Webster
August 5, 2011

In a bizarre Fox News segment Thursday night, right-wing talk show host Sean Hannity insisted that providing free birth control pills to women through their insurance is helping to build a “nanny state,” but giving men free pills to give them erections is just addressing a “medical problem.”

Repeal? Most Americans think health reform did not go far enough, poll finds

All Republicans lie.  All Republicans twist fact until they are lies.  One of the current big lies is that the majority of Americans do not like Obama’s Health Care Reform Plan.  The grain of truth that gets twisted into the lie.  Most people do not think it went far enough and still left the thieving plundering private corporations robbing us.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/repeal-americans-health-reform-poll-finds/

By The Associated Press
Saturday, September 25th, 2010 — 11:28 am

President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture’s not that clear cut.

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

“I was disappointed that it didn’t provide universal coverage,” said Bronwyn Bleakley, 35, a biology professor from Easton, Mass.

More than 30 million people would gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in, but another 20 million or so would remain uninsured. Bleakley, who was uninsured early in her career, views the overhaul as a work in progress.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/09/repeal-americans-health-reform-poll-finds/

Posted in Health Care. Comments Off

“MSM” Revisited: Trans Inclusion in LGBT Medical Study

[Today I added Mercedes Allen's blog "Dented Blue Mercedes" to my blog role.  It was about time as I kept seeing people coming here from her blog in my blog traffic reports.  And when ever I have gone there (which is fairly often) I have found thoughtful and often thought provoking subjects.  I also think highly of Mercedes writing and not just because we became Facebook friends a couple of hours ago.  I liked her writing when I first encountered it on Trans-Group Blog.]

By Mercedes Allen

Crossposted on:

http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/msm-revisited/

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/08/msm_revisited_trans_inclusion_in_lgbt_medical_stud.php

http://transgroupblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/trans-people-msm-and-hiv-study-and.html

August 11, 2010

Recently, I’d blogged about a term that’s increasing in usage in HIV research and outreach: “MSM,” or “men who have sex with men.”  The term was originally invented because of a need to include not just sexually active gay men but also bisexuals and men who are not gay-identified but for whatever reason have casual or incidental sex with men.  It can also include gay- or bi-identified trans males, although they’re often overlooked in the study (or sometimes even thought not to exist).  And, of course, it’s often asserted that it includes or intends to include trans women.  I’d commented:

I get it that effective terminology must be given to identify target high-risk groups for the sake of study.  I get it that the terminology needs to be both simple and encompassing.  I get it that HIV is a serious issue and relevant to the trans community, though not all trans sub-groups are high-risk.  I get it that penile-anal intercourse (PAI) risk groups can include trans women….  What I don’t and will not get is the gay community’s insistence that transsexual women are “really men” and how it’s such a bother having to state otherwise in order to be inclusive.  To be fair, there are many folks in HIV study and advocacy who don’t feel or act that way, but the prevalence of MSM-exclusive study sure reinforces this impression.

As diverse as the trans umbrella is, where MSM really fails is primarily when female-identified or dual-identified trans people (usually transsexual women) are forced into one of those “M” designations (i.e. also encompassing straight-identified men who date trans women).  This is often justified by researchers through noting other cultures where trans women sometimes do identify themselves as “really a man,” because they have not yet had the freedom to develop a language with which to self-identify, and therefore accept the language and logic that is available to and used on them.  For something that was supposed to have been devised in order to respect different male identities and transcend constructions built around terms like “gay,” people sometimes wonder why it’s such a big deal when trans women are similarly not accommodated and their identities as not men are not respected.  Especially when this is the result:

This past Spring, I’d had one such study request forwarded to me by someone who was apparently on one of the mailing lists that I forward communications to.  A few days later, he wrote me, irate that I’d not forwarded it to my trans networks.  I’d pointed out (feigning ignorance) that while a few trans men might qualify and be interested, much of what was being discussed in his email didn’t really fit FTM configuration, or at least pre-surgical.  This resulted in a missive which started off with “you know what I mean” and launched into an accusation that I’d be “guilty of the murder of” every transsexual woman who perished from HIV who might have benefited from the study.  And yet, the survey was written so thoroughly to exclude those of female gender identity, I can’t see any way that any self-respecting trans woman would be able to sit through the whole thing without becoming thoroughly incensed at the obvious refusal to dignify her as who she is.

Additionally, many trans women never have sex with men, being either lesbian-identified or not sexually active.  And for a small few of us, HRT isn’t kind, and it becomes an either-or proposition where we really do have to choose between transition and sex.  So an assumption that all trans women belong in the study is as inaccurate as the assumption that all trans men don’t.

But the solution does get fuzzy.  I’m no longer convinced that any permutation of “MSM + …” works effectively at all (and I see in my original article some failures to look outside transsexual identities to the nuances pertaining to some other flavours of trans).  Possibly some terminology along the lines of PAI practices should be considered, but it’s obvious that the status quo needs to be replaced with something more appropriate.  And if that discussion needs to happen anywhere, it needs to start in the larger LGBT sphere.

This situation is also symptomatic of a fuzzy understanding of trans realities when it comes to inclusion in LGBT medical studies in general.  Trans brings along with it a host of medical questions that are often entirely overlooked in such studies.  Which is fine if the study is presented as a general overview that is not reflecting on trans-specific care or pretending that it encompasses all the issues of the included study groups.  I also get that adding all aspects of trans to a study that is aiming to look at primarily cisgender medical issues will confuse it beyond recognition.  However, too often, these studies use the fact that there is a “transgender” checkbox in the Sex question to claim that what is presented is comprehensive and targets all the LGBT medical issues that need to be addressed — which leads researchers and medical professionals to conclude that they do not have any need to look further.

When transsexuals are factored in, there are numerous medical realities surrounding access to and cost of treatment, the fact that said treatment is part of a necessary course to righting one’s life, issues around hormone access and use, or access to surgeries or tests (i.e. obtaining a mammogram for someone with a penis, or finding a surgeon willing to perform a hysterectomy on a man).  Even outside the transsexual process, we find unique issues affecting genderqueer identification, or the existence of another DSM diagnosis intended for crossdressers (and which serves no useful purpose beyond stigmatization as well as the annexation of transsexuals): Transvestic Fetish.

Superficial inclusion can generate problems with survey questions like, “Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?”   Is this supposed to include GID?  If so, isn’t that a bit like rubbing one’s nose in the fact that our little community still carries this stigma?  And if there is no means to elaborate, how are the people conducting the study ever going to know if the respondent is referring to GID (or TF), or to something else entirely?

Such surveys can often be accompanied by assumptions: the assumption that we’re sexually active; assumptions that we engage in risky sexual behaviour; sometimes assumptions that ones genitals dictate how they should be addressed; assumptions about who we’re attracted to and sexually active with; assumptions that we can see just any medical professional when we need to; assumptions that prejudice in the clinic could never take the form of being treated like we’re deluded or freakish by the doctor, medical staff and/or other staff; assumptions that we can access HRT, surgery and other forms of treatment without requiring letters of permission from someone who has psychoanalyzed us; assumptions that anyone with a trans history has to identify as trans(fill-in-the-blank), rather than as male or female.  It can also overlook issues entirely, such as that of changing one’s name on file, having it acknowledged by staff, and not having it create a crossed-wires situation were your lab tests from elsewhere don’t get where they’re supposed to.

And finally, there is an issue of relevance.  When trans-specific care isn’t in the study at all, what remains seems almost irrelevant or even foreign to trans participants.  It does seem a little humorous to me to be asked, for example, “Do you trust your medical provider enough to discuss issues with him or her that might out you as being LGBT?” when an adam’s apple (not to mention genitalia), medications, gender markers on identification or surgeries recorded on file all leave no doubt.

I don’t mean this to be entirely scathing — studies do vary, and I’m elaborating on the worst I’ve seen in order to open discussion on making them better overall.  While the MSM terminology is glaring, many other issues stem from cisgender privilege — not in the sense that cisgender people often complain about being accused of (i.e. wilful ignorance), but from the privileged standpoint of never having experienced these things, and therefore not realizing that they need to be addressed.

There is a concern that conducting separate studies can be seen as a license to not do trans population studies at all.  But because the medical situation can be significantly different for trans people, I wonder if these issues would be best handled as a trans-specific addendum?  And where language fails altogether — terms like MSM — there is a serious need for reassessment.

Readers’ thoughts on MSM and inclusion in general?

(Crossposted, and I don’t want any grief about it)

On Medicare anniversary, lawmakers tout inevitability of single payer

On Medicare anniversary, lawmakers tout inevitability of single payer

From Raw Story: http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0731/medicare-anniversary-lawmakers-tout-inevitability-single-payer/

By Sahil Kapur
Saturday, July 31st, 2010 — 11:33 am

A trio of progressives in Congress invoked the 45th birthday of Medicare Friday to call for a national single payer health insurance system, predicting it’s “inevitable” if Americans want lower costs.

“It has never been more important to have a strong movement behind Medicare for All,” wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and John Conyers (D-MI) in a letter addressed to “friends of health care for all.”

The trio, all of whom have sponsored single payer bills, argued that cost controls are insufficient in the health reform law enacted March and claimed the growing need to save money would galvanize support for such a system.

“As we honor Medicare’s 45th birthday today, I am proud to say that the movement for Medicare for All remains strong and vibrant,” Kucinich said.

While various lawmakers have endorsed single payer proposals, it remains far out of the reach of Congress due to the prevalence of anti-government public sentiments and the political influence of the private insurance industry, which would be torn down.

Continue Reading at: http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0731/medicare-anniversary-lawmakers-tout-inevitability-single-payer/

President Obama Issues Memorandum Regarding Hospital Visitation Rights

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
April 15, 2010

Presidential Memorandum – Hospital Visitation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean — a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real onsequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients’ medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients’ needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients’ Bill of Rights to give each patient “the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient” — a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rule making, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rule making should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients’ advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients’ representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients’ care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decision making, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Behind the Shady World of Marketing Junk Food to Children

From Alternet

By Jill Richardson, AlterNet
Posted on March 23, 2010, Printed on March 23, 2010

http://www.alternet.org/story/146093/

Seven-year-old Marley loves Happy Meals from McDonald’s. She used to get Chicken McNuggets, but now she chooses a cheeseburger to go with her fries and Sprite. Her father, Patrick, is a chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, but Marley prefers McDonald’s to his cooking. After a trip to McDonald’s, Marley eagerly surfs onto McWorld.com, where she can enter a code from her meal to get a “behind-the-scenes look at iCarly,” a kids’ TV show (boys can use their code for a Star Wars promotion).

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/146093/behind_the_shady_world_of_marketing_junk_food_to_children

Get them hooked young.

Have Fat Acceptance Activists attack Michelle Obama because of her concerns regarding childhood obesity.

The selling is a constant barrage of advertising of food so out of touch with real food that it shouldn’t even be considered food but rather a product composed of sugars, fats and salt aimed at tickling the compulsive eating centers in the brain and addicting us.

Tina and I watched the Tony Bourdain Show last night.  It was in Provence, where good food is an obsession.  Food that is real food and not the product of a laboratory filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

As a virtual slave in the new servant economy I am a whore who peddles the junk food and am responsible for a whole crew of people that I send out to do the same.  What is worst is that we read the ingredients and know what nutritional nightmares we are foisting off on people.  Although too often when we get a good product, one that is organic and without a lot of unpronounceable chemicals in the ingredients, reduced sodium and low in sugars and fats the junk food junkies loudly proclaim, “Healthy…  Then it can’t possibly taste any good.”

These companies are like smack pushers peddling narcotics getting people hooked on crap when infants.

So hooked that they turn up their noses at some of the best food in the world, reject it for a 1200 calorie burger, 750 calorie fries topped off with a 1000 calorie shake.  Then they wonder why they are fat.

Changing habits starts with admitting you have a problem.  Unlike booze and drugs we all still have to eat so going cold turkey will at best work for a month or so and then you die.  We have to continue to eat and in the process wean ourselves from the junk food.  First to go is the huge servings of meat.  A deck of playing cards is a portion size.  If I’m going to eat that small a portion I can afford to look for organic grass fed rather than BGH fueled and corn fed.

More vegetarian meals even though lacto-ova can be tricky and just as full of fats as a meat based meal.

Posted in Food, Health Care, Uncategorized. Comments Off

Condoms = Arrest?

From Ms Magazine

Police policies often discourage sex workers from carrying protection

By NADIA BERENSTEIN

“First [the police officer] asked me what I was doing with all these condoms. Then he took the bag and threw it in the garbage. Then he arrested me.” —A transgender woman in New York City, from a 2009 Sex Workers Project survey.

Sienna Baskin, staff attorney at the Sex Workers Project in New York City, says there’s a question she’s always asked at the “Know Your Rights” workshops she leads for prostitutes and other sex workers: “How many condoms are we legally allowed to carry?”

There is no law in any state in the U.S. restricting condom possession, but if you’re a sex worker, you might have reason to believe there is a legal limit. Law enforcement officers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Bay Area routinely confiscate condoms from suspected suspected sex workers, sometimes filing them as evidence of prostitution. Almost everyone interviewed for a recent Sex Workers Project survey, Baskin says, “mentioned a certain number of condoms over which they
felt more concerned about increased harassment.” Cyndee Clay, executive director of D.C.-based Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, says, “It’s a common enough practice that everyone knows about it.”

Keeping a few condoms tucked in your handbag probably won’t land you behind bars—unless police profile you as a possible sex worker. Are you in an area known for street prostitution? Are you a transgender woman? Are you a woman of color? Do you have a prior record? If you answer yes to any of these questions, the number of condoms you’re carrying could suddenly become grounds for suspicion, even if you are not engaging in illegal activity.

Continue reading at: http://msmagazine.com/winter2010/condomsarrest.asp

There have also been cases of AIDS Prevention Workers doing outreach work passing out condoms to sex workers in the streets being harassed and arrested by cops who think it is their duty to enforce some sort of faith based morality and that AIDS is divine retribution on sex workers, especially if those sex workers are trans or gay.

President Obama Breaks Faith with Women

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 21, 2010

The National Organization for Women is incensed that President Barack Obama agreed today to issue an executive order designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion. Through this order, the president has announced he will lend the weight of his office and the entire executive branch to the anti-abortion measures included in the Senate bill, which the House is now prepared to pass.

President Obama campaigned as a pro-choice president, but his actions today suggest that his commitment to reproductive health care is shaky at best. Contrary to language in the draft of the executive order and repeated assertions in the news, the Hyde Amendment is not settled law — it is an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. NOW has a longstanding objection to Hyde and, in fact, was looking forward to working with this president and Congress to bring an end to these restrictions. We see now that we have our work cut out for us far beyond what we ever anticipated. The message we have received today is that it is acceptable to negotiate health care on the backs of women, and we couldn’t disagree more.

Lambda Legal Releases Health Care Discrimination Survey Results; More Than Half of LGBT and HIV Positive Respondents Report Discrimination

“The results of this survey should shock the conscience of this nation. No one should be turned away or face discrimination when they are sick or seeking medical care.”

From Lambda Legal

http://www.lambdalegal.org/news/pr/xny_20100204_lambda-releases-health.html

(New York, February 4, 2010) – Today, Lambda Legal released the first nationwide survey that examines health care discrimination experienced by LGBT people and people living with HIV.

“The results of this survey should shock the conscience of this nation and make clear that the system is broken when it comes to health care for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and those living with HIV,” said Beverly Tillery, Director of Community Education and Advocacy and one of the authors of the report. “No one should be turned away or face discrimination when they are sick or seeking medical care.”

In spring 2009, Lambda Legal and over 100 partner organizations distributed a survey to LGBT people and people living with HIV across the country. When Health Care Isn’t Caring: Lambda Legal’s Survey on Discrimination Against LGBT People and People Living with HIV, is based on responses from approximately 5,000 people and provides a powerful snapshot of the experiences of a diverse cross section of members of the LGBT and HIV communities all over the country.

The survey included questions about the following types of discrimination in care: being refused needed care; health care professionals refusing to touch patients or using excessive precautions; health care professionals using harsh or abusive language; being blamed for one’s health status; or health care professionals being physically rough or abusive. According to the results, almost 56 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) respondents had at least one of these experiences; 70 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents had one or more of these experiences; and nearly 63 percent of respondents living with HIV experienced one or more of these types of discrimination in health care. We found that not only did sexual orientation or serostatus affect the respondents’ access to quality health care, but transgender or gender-nonconforming respondents faced discrimination two to three times more frequently than lesbian, gay, or bisexual respondents. In nearly every category, a higher proportion of respondents who are people of color and/or low-income reported experiencing discriminatory and substandard care. Close to 33 percent of low-income transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents reported being refused care because of their gender identity and almost a quarter of low-income respondents living with HIV reported being denied care.

In addition to instances of discrimination, respondents also reported a high degree of anticipation and belief that they would face discriminatory care. Overall, 9 percent of LGB respondents are concerned about being refused medical services when they need them and 20 percent of respondents living with HIV and over half of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents share this same concern. Nearly half of LGB respondents and respondents living with HIV and almost 90 percent of transgender respondents believe there are not enough medical personnel who are properly trained to care for them. These barriers to care may result in poorer health outcomes because of delays in diagnosis, treatment or preventive measures.

Within the report, Lambda Legal provides key recommendations for health care institutions, government, individuals, and organizations to combat these issues. We recommend comprehensive cultural competency, inclusive policies, research and training for medical personnel, stronger laws, as well as advocacy and community education.

For the full report and the list of partners in Lambda Legal’s national Health Care Fairness Campaign, please visit www.lambdalegal.org/health-care-report.

Posted in Health Care, Human Rights, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off

STATEMENT ON DESPATHOLOGIZATION OF TRANSSEXUALISM

Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for Sexuality Studies

http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/mg7Y7pB1Rg

In CUBA ,24/01/2010

The Sexual Diversity section of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES) proposed the adoption of the following Declaration in its General Assembly of Members on 18 January 2010 in Havana, based on a proposal made by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People, of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX).

Recalling the current inclusion of transsexuality as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) published by American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization (WHO);

Recalling also that the Standards of Care adopted in Cuba by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People rely on those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which also includes the classification of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases E-10;

Considering that the American Psychiatric Association will publish in 2012 the fifth version of the above mentioned manual and that the chief and other specialists of the working group responsible for the review have recently proposed the non-removal of this category, as well as the application of corrective psychological therapy to children, to the sex assigned at birth;

Taking into account the concern expressed by individuals and human rights groups at the international level regarding this issue,

Considering that all transgender people -including transsexuality, transvestites and intersex people- may be vulnerable to marginalization, discrimination and stigma, based on the socially regulated binary approach that recognizes only two gender identities: male and female;

Considering also that the above classifications perpetuate and deepen social discrimination against these groups, causing irreversible physical and psychological damage that can lead these people to commit suicide;

Considering in addition that transsexuality and other transgender expressions are not an option for a lifestyle and that the modifications to their bodies have no cosmetic intentions. It is a right and an inner need to live with the gender identity which the person feels to belong;

Recalling the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, especially Principle 18 on “Protection from Medical Abuses” which, among other things, make States and governments responsible to “ensure that any medical or psychological treatment or counseling does not, explicitly or implicitly, treat sexual orientation and gender identity as medical conditions to be treated, cured or suppressed”;

Considering that the right to public health and universal free access to its services are guaranteed by the Cuban government for all, but still requires additional laws to fully protect the rights of transgender people;

Recalling Resolution 126 of Public Health Ministry, of 4 June 2008, which regulates the procedures involved in health care for transsexuals;

Recognizing that multidisciplinary care provided by the National Commission for Comprehensive Care of Transsexual People, since its foundation in 1979 until today, has led to a remarkable improvement in the quality of life of transsexual people and their families.

Express our support for the removal of transsexuality from the international classification of mental disorder, especially in the DSM-V update to be published in 2010.

Reject the application of psychological therapies for transgender people, in order to reverse their gender identity, as well as sex reassignment surgeries performed to those under 18 years old.

Reaffirm that transsexuality and other transgender identities are expressions of sexual diversity, to which it must be ensured all psychological, medical and surgical treatments required to alleviate alterations to the mental health of these individuals, as a result of stigma and discrimination.

Also reaffirm that the implementation of these procedures respects sexual rights of each person, and are consistent with bio-ethical principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence and justice.

Reaffirm in addition that transgender care should be comprehensive, beyond just medical and psychological care, to ensure recognition and respect for their individual rights.

Reiterate the need to consider all necessary legislations to ensure recognition of these rights, especially the Gender Identity Bill, which includes the identity change regardless sex reassignment surgery performance.

Call for a broader implementation of educational strategies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity at all levels of education and to the general population, as stated in the National Program for Sexual Education.

Reaffirm the need to include the attention to transgendered people in comprehensive social policies of the State and Government of Cuba, in correspondence with the “Declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations, condemning the violation of human rights based on sexual orientation and identity gender “, supported by Cuba on 18 December 2008.

Havana, 22 January 2010

Random Musings on being the out Liberal Feminist

Some times it is tough being an out Liberal Feminist.

Like when people expect me to think Obama represents me or that I think the Democrats are doing a good job.

When I in fact think that there really isn’t much difference between Democrats and Republican when it comes to representing the common people.  Tonight Obama is expected to announce a freeze on spending for all programs except the War Machine.  Is that any different than the Bush approach of tax cuts and borrowing money to feed the Moloch of the war Machine?

Here is Obama, the first African American President and he is more right wing than Eisenhower.  Hell Ike was a flaming liberal in comparison.

I know, I know I listen to Keith and Rachel as well as  XM Radio Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller.  I hear all about all the good things Obama has done, supposedly.

Except even with an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate our party of the so called left, our party that is supposed to represent progressive values hasn’t done shit.  The Republicans got more of their agenda through a Democratic majority Congress for the last 40 years than Obama has.

Two years ago I said “Hope is for dopes. I want programs not platitudes.”  I was a Hillary supporter.  I’m tired of the presidency requiring a dick as a major qualification.  As far as I am concerned having a dick and being a platitude spouting smooth talker was the only qualifications Obama had.  We rightly label Sarah Palin as unqualified because she is just a media creation and we should have done the same to Obama.

But more over this guy kissed up to Rick Warren and The Family, a bunch of religious zealots who are test marketing capital punishment for gays in Uganda.  He professed an admiration for Ronald Reagan, the President who started us on the road to out sourced Free Market hell.

So tonight Obama is planning on announcing he will adopt another part of the Republican agenda of shrinking funding for programs that actually benefit the American people.  But not the military.  After World War I General Smeadly Butler wrote a book titled “War is a Racket“,  As President, General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us to “Beware of the military industrial complex.

We were supposed to believe Obama was different and would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But we are still there, still murdering people with our outrageously expensive war toys, still torturing, still maiming in the name of freedom.

and I’m not really a liberal because liberals are way to complacent and wishy washy to say, “Not In My Name!”

Celebrating 37 Years of Roe v. Wade: NOW Asserts that Abortion Care is a Human Right

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

January 22, 2010

Today we celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman’s constitutional right to legal abortion. However, we recognize that in 2010 women’s ability to exercise this basic right is under attack as never before, not only by domestic terrorism but also in the halls of Congress. Just last summer, Wichita physician Dr. George Tiller was murdered as he attended church services, and today his admitted killer is being allowed to make the novel argument that his heinous act was not murder because he was driven by religious zeal. In Washington, after months of debate over health care reform, we find ourselves wondering whether the leadership in Congress and the president we worked so hard to elect in 2008 will ultimately stand up to the Catholic Bishops and other extremists bent on dismantling Roe and reject their demands for sweeping anti-abortion provisions in the reform bill. More than ever, we must fight for women’s fundamental human right to have access to safe and legal abortion.

The names Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts will forever be infamous for their closed-door collusion with the Catholic Bishops to push through an amendment to the House health care reform bill that would effectively choke off all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion care. If enacted, this provision would deprive tens of millions of women of health insurance they currently have, as nearly 90 percent of today’s private health insurance policies cover abortion. NOW and its allies beat back an attempt to put a nearly identical provision into the Senate health reform bill, only to see a so-called “compromise” inserted at the insistence of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). The Nelson language is better termed a capitulation, as it produces the same end result as Stupak-Pitts.

To those who tell us we should be willing to give up abortion rights in order to get other health care reforms, we respond with a resounding NO. We will not trade off the rights and needs of some women for the benefit of others. What kind of government has the temerity to even suggest that women do so?

On this anniversary, we mourn the beloved Dr. Tiller, who for 33 years courageously defended women’s constitutional right to access safe abortion care. And we express our profound gratitude to other abortion providers, like Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who has vowed to honor Dr. Tiller’s legacy by expanding the services available to women in his own practice and opening another clinic that will treat women in need of late-term abortions. NOW’s leaders and activists around the country will continue to support that mission.

Abortion has once again taken center stage in the current volatile political landscape. This year we pledge to fiercely resist every effort to negotiate, manipulate or hold up for sale our reproductive rights. Neither the bullying of the Catholic Bishops nor the threats of domestic terrorism will force us to turn back. As Dr. Tiller said, “Abortion is about women’s hopes and dreams. Abortion is a matter of survival for women.” Safe, legal and accessible abortion is a basic human right of every woman in this country. We claim it, and we will never give it up.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 157 other followers